Climate

Lighten up, and breathe easier

Craig Johnson

By , Web Editor in Hydro

Lighten up, and breathe easier

Cars, trucks and buses made with aluminium instead of steel are lighter, go easier on fuel and pollute less. Ahhhh!

Back in the day, gasoline was cheap and cars were heavy. “Detroit steel” was a boast, fuel mileage wasn’t a selling point. Global warming, climate emissions, and greenhouse gases hadn’t even been imagined.

Today, of course, it’s different. Two-thirds of global transport-related greenhouse gas emissions come from the road sector. In the U.S., vehicles account for nearly one-fifth of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

What to do? Make vehicles lighter.

Using aluminium in frames, body parts, bumper elements, wheels, engine blocks slims down the vehicle, resulting in fuel savings and lower emissions.

Analyses show that 1 kg aluminium replacing about 2 kg steel or iron will cut CO2 emissions by 21 kg of CO2-equivalents over the lifespan of the car. Globally, this “lightweighting” can result in a reduction of some 500 million tonnes CO2-equivalents in 2020.

A single component like a bumper system for a passenger car can equal a weight reduction of 7 kg per car. With an annual production of this model of 800,000 cars, the bumper weight reduction alone contributes a reduction of 800,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalents. The reduced fuel consumption offsets that of about 13,000 gasoline trucks.

And when the car has reached the end of the road, all that aluminium can be recycled with a fraction of the energy needed to make it the first time around.

We can all breathe a little easier.

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